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Company: Divine Acoustics
Position: owner, designer

ul. Słowackiego 10B/10
46-040 Ozimek | POLSKA

KRAKÓW | Poland


Company: Divine Acoustics
Position: owner, designer

No 209

October 1, 2021

DIVINE ACOUSTICS is a Polish specialist company founded in 2003 by Mr. Piotr GAŁKOWSKI. They focus their efforts on loudspeakers, but the lineup also includes an anti-vibration base, anti-vibration feet and speaker cables. Divine Acoustics products are proprietary designs, significantly different from the rest of the offer available on the market.

here are many companies in Poland that debuted on the pages of the "High Fidelity" magazine and which over time have become important players on the audio market. But just as many disappeared at some point. DIVINE ACOUSTICS is one of those manufacturers who have survived and for whom the new BELLATRIX loudspeaker model (tested in the same HF release) is sort of a the third "opening".

I first encountered the company in 2007 and since then I have been testing almost all of its products on a regular basis, though not too often. First, they were making loudspeakers, then these were joined by HALLEY speaker cables, GRAVITY anti-vibration platform and KEPLER anti-vibration feet. It turns out, however, that all of them were developed while working on the core products of brand’s lineup, that is speakers, to supplement or support the performance of the latter. Mr. GAŁKOWSKI is one of those designers who pay attention to every, literally every detail of the construction. And every one of them is equally important.

WOJCIECH PACUŁA talks with PIOTR GAŁKOWSKI, the owner of Divine Acoustics about this "obsession" of his, about the history of the company, and, obviously, also about the Bellatrix speakers. The gentlemen are accompanied by Mr. MARCIN, a friend of the designer and the first reviewer of all his products.


WOJCIECH PACUŁA Could you please remind us how did it all start with Divine Acoustics?
PIOTR GAŁKOWSKI Officially or as DIY? - Because probably most manufacturers started as a part of DIY community ... For me it started already when I was a little boy. I remember this moment well, even though I was five or six years old. My mother was a teacher, and there were discos at school and I went with her because she had no one to leave me with. I was standing in front of a loudspeaker, hypnotized, watching a driver’s diaphragm move - that was it for me ...

I made my first loudspeakers in primary school and their cabinets were made of… cardboard. I installed drivers from some radio in a cardboard box and realized they sounded differently. And so I knew I could do something about it. I took audio seriously on while I was a student even though my education was not related to that topic.

WP So what did you study?
PG I studied to become a construction engineer. Interestingly, a lot of the things I learned became, to some extend, useful when designing speakers. For example, I benefited from knowing how to calculate rigidness or compliance of materials. Even a design of loudspeaker’s cabinet has a lot to do with construction of a building, as in both one uses "beams", "poles", etc. To reinforce the whole structure. So the fact is that a lot of what I learner at the university became useful in my current job, although some things never did.

Anyway, I sent the first speakers to you in 2007 - and we can assume that this is when official story of the Divine Acoustics starts. It was a PROXIMA I model, to be exact.

WP These loudspeakers completely surprised me - both with their appearance and sound. It was completely different from anything else available on the market at the time, and it was thoroughly thought out.
PG It's true - I wanted to show something completely different than other manufacturers. If I were just another a company with square, simple cabinets, I would not have a chance to break through, no one would notice me. And it still wasn’t easy to become noticed, recognized because I had to put a lot of work into it, especially since I didn’t have a lot of money to start with.

In fact, the pair of speakers you reviewed was the first and only pair that I manufactured then - apart from the prototypes. I just couldn't afford more. When in 2013 I sent you the PROXIMA v3, it was right after my workshop burned down. The speakers were actually made in a small room, a little smaller than the one we are in right now. At that time, I could afford to make two pairs.

WP Why did the workshop catch fire?
PG From the lightning strike ... It wasn't my building, I rented it, but the machines belonged to me - everything burned down. My biggest regret concerned cabinets - at this moment I had fifteen of them ready. I realized then that there was no point in starting over but I rather had to move forward and as a result I started developing the Proxima 3. Another speaker was the ELECTRA 3 in 2015. When I shipped a pair to you for a test, I already had five pairs ready at my disposal, so as you can see, things were already better at the time :)

Over the years, I have sold over 100 pairs of all Proxima models. They were shipped to places all over the world, including Asia. And as for Asia - the biggest problem was finding a company that would export them there. It turned out that the goods flow was a one-way one and people were surprised when I wanted to ship something the other way, to Asia. They could transport anything in any quantity from there, but shipping to China? - Nobody knew how to do it. Once I got an email from my dealer in Shanghai who had my speakers, even though I didn't even know I had a representative there ... It turned out that he got them from my Hong Kong distributor.

WP At that time, you actually had a regular job, didn’t you?
PG Yes, since 2008 I worked two jobs. Recently, after almost thirteen years, I have decided to devote all my energy to Divine Acoustics.

The pandemic changed a lot in my life, I had time to think about what to do next. In fact, the Bellatrix model was supposed to be ready before the pandemic, but when it started everything slowed down, almost crashed, my daughter was born and than another one, so I had time to work out all the details of the new model without any rush. Since so much has changed, I decided it was a good time for a fresh start. So Electra and Proxima are slowly "retiring", I will only sell them until the component stock is exhausted.

The first model in the new era is the Bellatrix. The Keppler feet and the Gravity platform, which you tested in 2013, will be still offered - it turned out to be quite popular among customers. I already have a project of a new platform in my head, as well as of a rack, but it takes a lot of time and money to convert the ideas into a product :) So far I have invested a lot in Bellatrix speakers, because the components for them are not cheap.

WP So let's say a few words about these speakers.
PG These are two-and-a-half-way speakers with an external crossover and a bass-reflex cabinet. I am maniacally precise when assembling them, because everything is weighed and measured with high accuracy. So much so that when weighing the coils I take into account the temperature on a given day, because the scale must be properly calibrated. But it gives me an incredible repeatability. Yesterday I performed a test - I took the left speaker from one pair and the right one from another and they still sounded exactly the same.

The mere preparation of the documentation for this product - which is over 100 pages long - and building the first prototype took me over a year.

WP But that's probably how it should be done, shouldn’t it?
PG I think so too, although it is not an industry standard. Sometimes I watch the so-called "Factory tour" videos presenting what the production in a given company looks like. If it is a loudspeaker manufacturer, most often they put the finished speakers in a small an-echoic chamber, where it is measured and the computer says that it is "OK". But it’s not really "OK" as it accepts a very high tolerance.

I personally assemble each pair, break it in and listen to it, comparing it to the reference loudspeaker. It takes a long time, but it has to be done that way to achieve proper results. At the beginning of September, I am starting to put together the next pairs of Bellatrix and the pair that I will start with will not be ready until November, after three months.

WP What drivers do you use in Bellatrix?
PG This is probably the first time you have tested loudspeakers with the ETON Orchestra driver - and it’s a very interesting one. Its membrane is made of paper, but the company calls it a "reinvented" one. In 2018, I was in Munich for the High End Show and found out that Eton had launched it only a year earlier, so it was still a novelty.

Everyone uses the Scan-Speak Revelator drivers. One of the reasons why I was interested in ETON, however, was that I wanted to distinguish myself from other manufacturers. I didn’t want to present yet another Scan-Speak-based loudspeaker - these are excellent drivers, but one can find them in many, many loudspeakers. I talked to a representative of ETON and ordered some drivers to try them out, to compare them with the Scan-Speak. I knew from the very first time that this was IT.

WP What makes the "new paper" by ETON new?
PG When you touch a „regular” paper cone, it will inevitably bend. The ETON’s driver has ribs that make it more rigid - even a strong push does not deform it. Scan-Speak also stiffens its diaphragm, but does so by cutting it and gluing it together. ETON uses a matrix for this, which extrudes the entire membrane already with ribbing. And this is an important difference from a mechanical point of view.

Let's take a look at the structure of a car body - if a car has a large front hood, there are embossments on it. This gives it more rigidity. It is similar with the diaphragm - it is stiffer, firstly, and secondly, it is a bit thicker than if it were flat, so there will be no unwanted resonances on the perimeter - and you can hear its advantages. However, this is not a flawless diaphragm, which is why it took me so long to design the right crossover for it.

Its problem is quite strong resonance at 5-6 kHz, which is difficult to handle. You can hear it as a kind of "rustling", not a very nice effect ... So it was necessary to develop a completely new crossover for this driver, which took me a lot of time. However, I managed to virtually completely eliminate this resonance.

WP Despite the fact that it is a 1st order crossover, i.e. theoretically with a fairly gentle slope.
PG It was possible thanks to correction circuits that compensate for the coil. I got a nicely sloping characteristic, like for a 1st order crossover, but without that „dirt”.

WP The tweeter is decoupled with a similar arrangement as in the Keppler feet - does this type of solution really help?
PG Yes, the difference is huge. If we had "shortened" Keppler, the soundstage would have shifted the other way. I wouldn't have expected the decoupling of the tweeter to be so important. In fact, the Keppler feet were created after this development - I designed this system for the Bellatrix speakers.

It came from my driver testing methodology. I put them on the table in front of me and listen to them without cabinets. Very quietly, obviously, but you can still hear everything. It turned out that it was extremely important for the tweeter what it was placed on. Since I heard the difference even without cabinets and crossover, i.e. elements introducing distortions, between the left and right drivers fed with a mono signal, I knew that there was something to it.

WP Bellatrix took a long time to build, but not being rushed was actually a good thing, wasn’t it?
PG Of course - if we want to prepare a really good product, it cannot be rushed, it takes time. 60-70% of designing time is waiting. Before I started designing the crossover, I had to break-in woofers, which took me three months. Before I started tuning the tweeter - I had to go through the same rigor. Then there were adjustments in the crossover, and there were hundreds of them, and after each one, it took several days for accommodation, for breaking-in, for checking it in various conditions. It was often the case that the speaker sounded different in the evening and different in the morning, and I had to find the reason.

Thanks to this, I listened to every resistor’s and capacitor’s lead, every coil - really. Anyway, I cut the leads with high accuracy, to a millimeter - such tiny details make difference and can be heard. If someone asks if they can use a Mundorf instead of a Jantzen capacitor, my answer is no. Not because Mundorf is bad and I don't like it, but because replacing it causes changes that don't "match" with my design. And I do not know if it will be properly soldered after replacement - meaning properly set.

I struggled for the whole year with the damping of these loudspeakers. There is no soft damping inside - there are only hard mats that I found and chose based on listening sessions. They, too, are weighed to the thousandth of a gram (0.001 g). To ensure full repeatability, I made assembly tables that allow me to assemble each cabinet in the same way.

WP Do the drivers need to be paired so precisely as well?
PG Maybe what I shall say is not a very popular view, but in the case of drivers such precise pairing is not necessary. It turns out that what is more important for the sound is the precise make of the cabinets, precise damping and refinement of the crossover. The unevenness of the assembly of a driver at the factory is far less problematic than the inaccuracies of the rest of the loudspeaker components.

WP You have designed and made your own speaker terminals. They look like Cardas ones - am I right?
PG Yes, these are my new terminals, but they are not a "copy", the starting point was completely different. Also, my terminals are much more complex and have a simpler signal path. It was about a very high price of top connectors and the need to buy a large number to get them cheaper.

The second thing is related to the design of the Bellatrix loudspeakers - everything is directional in them. Each cable, capacitor, coil and resistor are listened to and on based on that I chose the direction of the current flow. When I started connecting various terminals, each one introduced something to the sound. Ideally, I wouldn’t use any. I didn't want to do that, so I started experimenting. It was the seventeenth prototype that finally worked as expected :)

WP But let's be honest - the idea to tighten both spades with a centrally located knob comes from Cardas.
PG My point was to process the signal conducting element as little as possible. It cannot be overheated, over-stressed. You can do all of this on a lathe, but it doesn't make sense. Each cap means an additional threading and drilling. I also wanted the signal to follow the shortest path - in my terminals it is guided through one element that is only machine polished.

One clamp for both spades results from the fact that I did not want to use many moving parts and I wanted to minimize the number of parts that come into contact with the signal. Even the nuts that tighten the spades are made of polyamide, not metal. I make the clamps myself.

WP Since Bellatrix has been in development for so long, when will the next models be ready?
PG I learned a lot with the 'Bellatrix project', made many mistakes that had to be corrected, so I will be able to spend half as much time on a new design. I'm guessing - in a year and a half I will have another model ready. It will be a cheaper, more affordable speaker.

I've always wanted to do something "for people" and I've been successful. In Bellatrix I applied everything I've learned and it has been taken to the extreme, so they have to cost so much (in fact, they should cost twice as much if we stick to the standards of large companies - editor's note). But it gave me the knowledge that I can apply to cheaper loudspeakers with less money. It makes no sense to make a loudspeaker that costs a fortune - it’s better to do something that will please many people.

WP Thank you for your time!
PG Thank you! And greetings for all „High Fidelity” Readers!